Texas Roadhouse mogul carves new niche at ski-lodge concept

Texas Roadhouse mogul carves new niche at ski-lodge concept

LOUISVILLE Ky. —A ski vacation in the Rockies does not come cheap, but W. Kent Taylor is looking to offer value-conscious diners a similar but more accessible experience with his latest concept, Aspen Creek.

Scheduled to debut here Feb. 24, Aspen Creek is the first concept Taylor has unveiled since 1993, when he launched the now 314-unit Texas Roadhouse casual-dining chain. The 275-seat restaurant, which is inspired by the ski resorts of Colorado and Utah, will feature an extensive menu of American fare designed to yield a per-person check of about $12. —A ski vacation in the Rockies does not come cheap, but W. Kent Taylor is looking to offer value-conscious diners a similar but more accessible experience with his latest concept, Aspen Creek.

“I always wanted to take that out-West theme and see what I could do with it,” said Taylor, an avid skier. “It’s not competing with Roadhouse. There are only three steaks on the menu, so it’s chicken, hamburgers, pizza, pasta, appetizers and seafood.” —A ski vacation in the Rockies does not come cheap, but W. Kent Taylor is looking to offer value-conscious diners a similar but more accessible experience with his latest concept, Aspen Creek.

Half of the sales at a typical Roadhouse come from steaks, he added. —A ski vacation in the Rockies does not come cheap, but W. Kent Taylor is looking to offer value-conscious diners a similar but more accessible experience with his latest concept, Aspen Creek.

Taylor, who remains chairman of Texas Roadhouse, said Aspen Creek would serve dinner nightly, similar to Texas Roadhouse. It will open for lunch only on the weekends. Unlike Texas Roadhouse, there will be no peanut shells on the floor. —A ski vacation in the Rockies does not come cheap, but W. Kent Taylor is looking to offer value-conscious diners a similar but more accessible experience with his latest concept, Aspen Creek.

Aspen Creek’s menu also will differ from that at Texas Roadhouse, said Travis Doster, spokesman for Texas Roadhouse. —A ski vacation in the Rockies does not come cheap, but W. Kent Taylor is looking to offer value-conscious diners a similar but more accessible experience with his latest concept, Aspen Creek.

“It will feature ‘Aspen-tizers,’ chicken, pasta, pizzas, seafood and some down-home favorites, such as meatloaf, open roast beef and braised-beef pot roast, as well as several burgers and sandwiches,” Doster said. —A ski vacation in the Rockies does not come cheap, but W. Kent Taylor is looking to offer value-conscious diners a similar but more accessible experience with his latest concept, Aspen Creek.

Only two steaks are on the menu: an 8-ounce Choice sirloin and a Hawaiian rib-eye steak. —A ski vacation in the Rockies does not come cheap, but W. Kent Taylor is looking to offer value-conscious diners a similar but more accessible experience with his latest concept, Aspen Creek.

“Many of the items were tested in Texas Roadhouse locations across the country,” Doster added, noting that out of 60 or so selections only three items are priced above $10. —A ski vacation in the Rockies does not come cheap, but W. Kent Taylor is looking to offer value-conscious diners a similar but more accessible experience with his latest concept, Aspen Creek.

“The quality of the food is more important than it was 16 years ago,” Taylor said. “In today’s environment, price is very important. I made sure half the items are priced under $10.” —A ski vacation in the Rockies does not come cheap, but W. Kent Taylor is looking to offer value-conscious diners a similar but more accessible experience with his latest concept, Aspen Creek.

Also unlike Texas Roadhouse, which features four white and four red wines, Aspen Creek will feature more than 15 wines. The restaurant will also have a selection of signature frozen drinks, such as a frozen Cosmopolitan, a frozen Mojito and a frozen Bellini. The bar will also sell 10 signature Martinis. —A ski vacation in the Rockies does not come cheap, but W. Kent Taylor is looking to offer value-conscious diners a similar but more accessible experience with his latest concept, Aspen Creek.

Taylor said he has been working on the concept, down to such details as songs on the sound system, for the past year and a half. —A ski vacation in the Rockies does not come cheap, but W. Kent Taylor is looking to offer value-conscious diners a similar but more accessible experience with his latest concept, Aspen Creek.

The 7,100-square-foot restaurant features a rugged stone exterior and a mountain-lodge-inspired interior that includes stone, barn wood accents and antique light fixtures. Taylor got the stone from Telluride, Colo., and the light fixtures from Salt Lake City. Taylor used wood from an old barn on his property in the decor. —A ski vacation in the Rockies does not come cheap, but W. Kent Taylor is looking to offer value-conscious diners a similar but more accessible experience with his latest concept, Aspen Creek.

The Louisville area has four Roadhouse restaurants, Taylor said. —A ski vacation in the Rockies does not come cheap, but W. Kent Taylor is looking to offer value-conscious diners a similar but more accessible experience with his latest concept, Aspen Creek.

“I picked a site [for Aspen Creek that is] a minimum of seven miles from our other Roadhouses,” he said, “figuring if it didn’t work I could convert it to a Texas Roadhouse.” —A ski vacation in the Rockies does not come cheap, but W. Kent Taylor is looking to offer value-conscious diners a similar but more accessible experience with his latest concept, Aspen Creek.

Texas Roadhouse now has units in 46 states. Last fall, the company slashed plans for new company units in 2009, saying it would aim for 15, nearly half of the 29 opened in 2008. —A ski vacation in the Rockies does not come cheap, but W. Kent Taylor is looking to offer value-conscious diners a similar but more accessible experience with his latest concept, Aspen Creek.

Taylor also created the Colorado-theme Buckhead Grill in 1991 and sold it in 1994. —A ski vacation in the Rockies does not come cheap, but W. Kent Taylor is looking to offer value-conscious diners a similar but more accessible experience with his latest concept, Aspen Creek.

Taylor views Aspen Creek as a creative project for now. —A ski vacation in the Rockies does not come cheap, but W. Kent Taylor is looking to offer value-conscious diners a similar but more accessible experience with his latest concept, Aspen Creek.

“As a creative guy, I was looking for something new and challenging,” he said. —A ski vacation in the Rockies does not come cheap, but W. Kent Taylor is looking to offer value-conscious diners a similar but more accessible experience with his latest concept, Aspen Creek.